Jacinda Ardern replaced by Chris Hipkins as New Zealand PM

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Chris Hipkins replaces Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand's prime minister on Wednesday. 
  • Hipkins said he was 'energised and excited by the challenges ahead'.
  • Hipkins will deal with problems of inflation, recession and housing affordability. 

Hundreds gathered to applaud Jacinda Ardern as she left New Zealand's parliament to resign as prime minister on Wednesday, before Chris Hipkins was swiftly sworn in as her replacement.

Ardern said last week she no longer had "enough in the tank" after steering the country through natural disasters, its worst-ever terror attack and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hipkins was sworn in by Governor-General Cindy Kiro during a ceremony in the capital Wellington, saying he was "energised and excited by the challenges ahead".

"This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life," he said.

The 44-year-old is now tasked with reversing the government's sagging popularity, which has been hampered by a deteriorating economy and a resurgent conservative opposition.

Ardern made her last public appearance as prime minister earlier on Wednesday, walking out of the distinctive Beehive parliament building as hundreds of staff and onlookers broke into a spontaneous round of applause.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

Prince William was among the first to congratulate Ardern.

He wrote on his official Twitter account:

Thank you Jacinda Ardern for your friendship, leadership and support over the years, not least at the time of my grandmother's death.

Folk singer Yusuf/Cat Stevens, who played a concert in memory of the 51 people killed during the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, also praised Ardern.

On Twitter, he described Ardern as a "supporter of the peace train who kept New Zealanders together following the terror attack in Christchurch".

Ardern was first elected as prime minister in 2017, before riding a wave of "Jacindamania" to secure a second term with a landslide victory in 2020.

Falling popularity

But her centre-left government has increasingly struggled over recent months as it battles soaring inflation, a housing affordability crisis, and a looming recession.

After chairing his first cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Hipkins said it was an "immensely proud moment" for him to take "the baton of responsibility" from Ardern.

He singled out the cost of living as one of his most urgent priorities, but was coy when pressed on other potential policy changes.

Ardern, a global figurehead of progressive politics, has been credited with raising New Zealand's profile on the world stage.

Hipkins said he would be building his own relationships, but he expected Ardern "will put in a good word".

The father-of-two is nicknamed "Chippy" and describes himself as a "regular, ordinary Kiwi" from a working-class background who loves sausage rolls and cycling to work.

He has condemned the "utterly abhorrent" social media abuse levelled at Ardern, which intensified during her years as prime minister.

Ardern said on Tuesday she would "hate" for her departure to be seen as "a negative commentary on New Zealand".

She said:

I leave feeling gratitude for having this wonderful role for so many years.

Ardern will continue to sit in parliament, but has announced her intention to step back from the cut and thrust of daily politics.

She has also said she plans to marry her partner Clarke Gayford, a television personality who fronts a popular fishing show, and is looking forward to taking her daughter Neve to school.

Gayford said Ardern's resignation had been met with an "incredible outpouring of thanks and respect", and that he was immensely proud of her "superhuman efforts".

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 890 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 4893 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1048 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.